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New showrunner exiled from chaotic American Gods production

American Gods Peter Stormare

Between the first season of the Starz series American Gods and the beginning of production on the second season, original showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green left the show over creative and budgetary issues with production company Fremantle Media. When new showrunner Jesse Alexander came on board with the intention of keeping the series close to the source material, a novel written by Neil Gaiman, it sounded like the behind the scenes drama would be over. But that hasn't been the case.

With production on the second season six weeks behind schedule, Alexander has been ordered to stop working on the show, with his situation being described as "fired but not fired". He hasn't been asked to sit in on editing, to be involved on set, or to participate in any areas of production or post. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that Fremantle has decided to exile Alexander rather than deal with the negative publicity that would come from losing another showrunner.

Although Alexander turned in multiple drafts of the season 2 finale, Starz and Fremantle have rejected all of them. With no script in place, production has been shooting pickups and reshoots for finished episodes rather than moving forward with the finale, which was supposed to have been filming by now.

Sources blamed the chaos on the fact that multiple parties have different visions for what the show should be. There's tension between Starz and Fremantle, while Alexander's take on the material conflicted with the outlooks of several cast members.

Fuller and Green had written six episodes before they left the series, and those scripts were tossed out when Alexander was hired. But disagreements over Alexander's scripts began on the day of the first table read and continued throughout the filming of the season, with scripts often being rewritten on set, sometimes by the actors. Ian McShane is said to have started coming up with his own dialogue and participating in "screaming matches" with Alexander.

Now that American Gods doesn't really have a showrunner anymore, producing director Chris Byrne and line producer Lisa Kussner are working to try to get the second season across the finish line.

American Gods is about the brewing war between Old Gods and New, but it sounds like a documentary about the making of the show would be even more intense.

Starring McShane as Mr. Wednesday, Ricky Whittle as Shadow Moon, Emily Browning as Laura Moon, Crispin Glover as Mr. WorldBruce Langley as Technical Boy, Chris Obi as Anubis, Cloris Leachman as Zorya Vechernyaya, Demore Barnes as Mr. Ibis, Mousa Kraish as The Jinn, Omid Abtahi as Salim, Orlando Jones as Mr. Nancy, Pablo Schreiber as Mad Sweeney, Peter Stormare as Czernobog, Yetide Badaki as Bilquis, Kahyun Kim as Media, Dean Winters as Mr. Town, Devery Jacobs as spiritually cynical college student / chainsaw artist Sam Black Crow, and Sakina Jaffrey as Hindu goddess of war Mama-Ji, American Gods has the following synopsis: 

The traditional Old Gods, with mythological roots from around the world, fear irrelevance as their believers die off or are seduced by the money, technology, and celebrity offered by the New Gods. Shadow Moon (Whittle) is an ex-con who, left adrift by the recent death of his wife, becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to conman Mr. Wednesday (McShane). But in truth, Mr. Wednesday is a powerful old deity, on a cross-country mission to build an army and reclaim his lost glory.

Once it's finished, American Gods season 2 is heading toward a 2019 debut on Starz. After all the issues Starz and Fremantle have had with the making of the first two seasons, I'd be surprised if it ends up getting a third.

Extra Tidbit: Did you watch the first season?
Source: THR

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